It wasn’t long ago when I was asking myself the question, “How much do the Packers enjoy playing football”? After their second lifeless, uninspiring performance in a row at Lambeau Field, a narrow 24-20 win against the 1- win Jaguars, I was seriously pondering the question. Sure, ups and downs are normal in a 17 week season and yes, it’s easy to overreact when there’s only one game a week but… that’s where myself and I’m sure many others, were at.
Fast forward almost three weeks later since that November 15th tilt against the Jags. In between, the Packers fumbled away a game in Indianapolis that they should have won, where the offense put up a 28 burger in the first half while the defense played with some juice. That was followed by last week; a 41-25 beatdown of the Chicago Bears, a game the Packers led 41-10 going into the 4th quarter.
The last two weeks, we’ve seen the Packers offense “return to form”, so to say and that is encouraging news as they head into December and January football.
The running game is improving, punctuated last week by their dynamic 1-2 duo of Jones and Williams. Last Sunday Night, Aaron Jones had 17 carries for 90 yards and Jamaal Williams had 17 carries for 73 yards. It’s a rare and special sight when both running backs get 15+ carries and average over 4 yards per rush. Interestingly enough, Jones’ longest carry of the night was for 16 yards and Williams, 17 yards. I mention that to emphasize that their final stats were a result of a highly efficient run game, not one or two major gains. It was a great game for the Packer Backs, consistently producing steady yardage and keeping drives going.
Call it coincidence, luck, helpful..call it whatever you want; the Packers have “returned to form” on offense since the return of Allen Lazard. Since his reappearance in the lineup, the Packers have been able to score 30+ points in back to back weeks against two of the leagues better defenses. He’s not the best player the Packers have on offense, or the fastest or most dynamic; but he’s a good, smart football player that can catch, block and has earned the trust of Rodgers.
Lazard’s return to the field also opens up favorable opportunities for other players. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has had some very high high’s and low low’s this season but there is no debate that he’s taken a significant step forward in year 3 of his young and developing career. He gives the Packers a legitimate deep threat option that defenses have to respect; it’s hard to run with MVS 50 yards down the field one on one and he’s proven that in 2020. He’s also a player that has improved in other aspects of his game, like blocking, run after the catch and intermediate route running. Injuries to others opened the door for MVS and as a result, the Packers have a confident, difference making player at WR3 going into December.
Additionally, over the last two weeks, the Packers have seen Equanimeous St. Brown start to get into a rhythm and make some plays. “E.Q.”, for short, had a beautiful, athletic and powerful 23 yard catch-and-run against Indianapolis to set up a short touchdown the following play. Last week, he added 2 more catches for 39 yards and a rushing attempt for 7 yards. It may not sound like much but E.Q. is gaining confidence and momentum. As he’s been able to stay healthy, he’s started to show flashes of his 2018 production and has been good enough the last two weeks to earn sizable snaps and give Rodgers a legitimate WR4 option.
Obviously, the Packers also have Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan. Adams makes a serious case for the best wide reciever in football and Tonyan is arguably a Top 10 Tight End. Tonyan is the best TE the Packers have had since they had Jared Cook in 2016 and Tonyan is probably better. In the last two weeks, “Big Bob” Tonyan has had 5 catches and scored a touchdown in each game. Tonyan is on pace for 63 targets, 56 receptions (insane target to reception ratio) for 687 yards and 11 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, it’s right on par with JerMichael Finley’s 2011 season, when Finley had 93 targets for 55 receptions, 767 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is a dynamic TE1.
The Packers are 8-3 and are peaking at the right time. They’ll be favored to win in each of their 5 remaining games and have a strong chance to finish 13-3 for the 2nd straight season. The offense looks as good as ever and the Packers are locked and loaded heading into the most important months of the season.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.